– Spoilers Below –
Well, perhaps I was right after all. This episode focused on Niwatori (Rooster), who is possibly the only character whose actual name I will remember because it was said so often. The first episode was Boar’s episode and last episode was Dog’s. And guess who bit the dust in each? (AND GUESS WHAT ORDER THE CHINESE ZODIAC GOES IN? THAT’S NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL.) Considering each of them had their name in the episode title, it looks like Monkey might get next episode’s feature. . . and death. Which is a shame, because I truly like Monkey. Everyone I like is getting killed off, but the show keeps making me care about each new focus character, which is a serious high mark for it. It may be predictable as all hell, but for it to keep churning out likable characters like it is doing? That’s a pretty respectable feat.
Niwatori reveals it was her plan all along to have Dog inject her with his strength-boosting toxin. Having no further use for him, she killed him of her own will, not because of a lack of control. She then goes on to take out the Boar with her army of feathered fiends, leaving the Boar’s gun improbably sputtering quieter and quieter as it stops firing. Yeah. Guns don’t do that. I can only wonder if Boar is really down for the count, as it makes Rabbit’s power slightly less threatening but still a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps she’ll reanimate similar to Snake. I think it was Snake. I can’t remember which brother is which and I’m afraid to search the internet because of spoilers from the book.
Throughout her killing romp, Niwatori thinks back to how she got where she is. Her abusive parents died, possibly by her own hand, leaving her alone and with a serious case of amnesia. Still in possession of her ability to communicate with and control avian species, the Rooster family took her in and helped train her. She developed her skills and began to work as a constant double-agent for anyone and everyone imaginable, so much so that it’s hard to keep track of even just for the flashback’s duration. She’s become a cold-hearted killer, easily able to manipulate anyone she comes in contact with with her helpless girl guise. I have to say Dog’s backstory was underwhelming, but Niwatori’s is quite interesting to watch unfold. Just as she fooled Dog with her act, so too did she fool the audience with her fake innocence. (Take notes, King’s Game.)
During the second half of the episode, Niwatori meets up with Rat, who remembers her raising her hand as a pacifist before the battle began. He leads her to Monkey, who then digs for details about what is happening with the other warriors. As much as I like Monkey, it’s pretty suspicious how she has yet to reveal her plan, though I suspect we’ll learn every detail in the upcoming episode since, you know, she’ll pretty likely die. I’m guessing Monkey’s ability has something to do with truth-telling, as Niwatori, despite her nature, seems compelled to truthfully answer any question Monkey asks her, which does raise a question regarding the legitimacy of the supposed pacifists who raised their hands, as it is already known that at least three of them did not truly care for Monkey’s plan. Monkey was able to identify someone’s urge to kill when the battle started, and she was also able to instantly cause the floor to break apart. I’m still not entirely certain of her ability, but it’s probably something dealing with detecting malicious intent and/or lies, again, assuming I totally didn’t miss a reveal of her ability previously.
Anyway, Niwatori finds herself swayed by Monkey’s conviction and unable to backstab her. She leaves, cursing herself, and fails to notice Ox nearby until it’s too late. It’s a little frustrating that that happens, considering she should be able to use her ability to keep watch on everything around her. She’s potentially the warrior best suited to laying low due to her ability to watch from the skies. But in the end, she’s still found out, and after Ox denies being a pacifist and prods Niwatori for details on Monkey’s location, the two clash, resulting in a swift defeat for Niwatori. While Boar’s second death had some sweet animation going on, it’s still a little annoying that the battles the show has provided so far have only lasted a few seconds each. There’s been no time for any intricate choreography or engrossing animated sequences. The best we’ve gotten so far is Boar’s imaginary fight against Rabbit in the first episode. If the show is going to continue being predictable, it at least needs to put its animation budget to good use to make up for it.